Kim Foglia’s Building Macromolecules, Digital Edition

Dr. Kirstin Milks

How are large biological molecules built and broken?

Grade Level
9th - 12th
60 minutes
Asynchronous Online Face-to-Face Hybrid Synchronous Online

How are you integrating Universal Design for Learning - UDL principles (multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression)- into your lesson?

Information is represented visually in this assignment, as well as in-text instructions as students manipulate the molecules in the workspaces. Recording a walk-through video where you show remote learners how to approach the task can provide additional representations of information.

Students can engage individually or with a partner. In-person learners can choose to use Kim’s original hands-on version of this assignment (see original printables and instructions on Kim’s website).

For showing what they’ve learned, students can write, draw, or tell the story of how these molecules are built.

What evidence do you have that you are connecting teaching to the CRP tenets (academic success, cultural competence and critical consciousness)?

Students are introduced to this activity by connecting their and their families’ experiences of favorite foods (from a list of foods with origins around the globe) to the nutrition they contain–or by investigating nutritional, availability, and cost information for several highly-nutritious foods.

This activity can also serve as a bridge to classroom explorations of where food comes from, environmental degradation and antibiotic resistance due to concentrated animal feeding operations in livestock farming, and more intense study of the levels of availability of fresh foods in places where people of different socioeconomic experiences live.

This activity provides a scaffolded yet rigorous active learning experience for a vital part of understanding how living things are made. The topic of macromolecules and how they are created undergirds much of student biology learning about the chemistry of life, cell structure and function, and molecular genetics.

How are you using technology to enhance and enrich the lesson?

Technology, here, provides a seamless way for teachers to have students complete a “card-sort” activity without the time or in-person space needed to cut out cards, use tape, etc. It also allows teachers to set boundaries on how the different building blocks fit together and define the workspace (particularly important for building the saturated fat and the DNA molecule).

About Kim Foglia

About Kim Foglia: Kim was a beloved AP Biology teacher who passed away in January 2011. The AP Biology teaching community has raised funds to keep her archived website, where she posted her curriculum at no charge, up and running as a resource to teachers, and the National Association of Biology Teachers names a Kim Foglia AP Biology Service Awardee yearly.



Engages in investigations and asking questions without necessarily questioning the structural status quo. Delves into popular culture and provides explorations of powerful images. Tensions are recognized that may result in some discomfort.


Deep and Transformational Learning

The promotion of academic success and transformational ends through a rigorous and integrated process that honors learners and communities as cultural entities and works to change the world to be a more equitable and inclusive place.

Multiple Ways of Knowing and Doing

The knowledge and wisdom of the students, families, and communities are centered in content and materials to promote equitable and inclusive learning experiences.

Equitable Practices and Systems

Leading learning and knowledge sharing is mediated through equitable and inclusive dispositions and decision-making processes that promote the success of disenfranchised learners and communities.


Social Justice

Identity 4 - Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.
Justice 12 - Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).


Knowledge Constructor 3d - Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
Computational Thinker 5b - Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.


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